1. A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director
2. The process of changing or undergoing change in one's thinking or in a position
I write to you this month with the theme of retreat. I am inspired by a video shot by the talented film maker, Brett Renville, on a Yoga/Fitness retreat I was co-teaching in April 2015 in Sayulita, Mexico. Brett came along on this retreat to film a promotional video for Via Yoga, the company hosting the retreat. The edited final product was amazing and beautiful! The piece that inspired me, was the rough-cut version that captured moments during the week that show how nature, meditation, intimacy, food, yoga and fitness can cause profound change in one's perspective on life.
I have found in my own life a need to be productive, to work hard, and to prove myself. In order to fulfill this need, I have sacrificed my sanity, pushed way beyond my comfort zone, lost faith (and found it again), and made relationships that were both healthy and unhealthy. We are programmed to “succeed” in our Western culture, to attain goals, to raise children, to become productive contributors in our society – but at what cost? What have we lost as a result of our addiction to doing? There are many different answers to this question. It has cost me my relationship to myself at times, my own ability to trust my intuition, and my happiness.
The reasons I decided to become a yoga teacher mostly fall into the category of holistic health, but it was on my first retreat as a student in 2006, that the clear thought sparked in my mind – and I was present enough in that moment to hear it. I remember it clearly: my truth. I was swimming in the Carribbean Sea, in the middle of a week-long retreat with my two teachers, Dee Hine and Eiric Orvid. I was in nature, in my practice, and out of the daily grind of restaurant owner. Part of the retreat were daily "self inquiry" workshop classes where we (the students) were asked to write down questions. Questions like, “What is holding you back in your life right now that you can let go of?” and, “What is the most valuable virtue to you?” Not only did we have to write down our own answers in our journals, but often we were asked to share these intimate truths out loud with others in the group. I struggled and resisted these types of questions, and sharing the answers. I felt stupid and frustrated that the answers didn't come easily at first. By the end of the week, my truth surfaced – the answers were simple. I want truth. I want to teach yoga. I will be a great teacher. I will guide people back to their hearts.
I was far from leaving my career path at that moment, but the seed was planted. That seed grew and grew until I was ready to take the leap. In 2009, I became a yoga teacher. Two years later I sold my restaurant and never looked back.
The retreat experience allowed me to reconnect with what I already knew at that time: I was living an unauthentic identity, I was not happy, and I needed to find my place in the world as a guide to others who had forgotten their own truths. I wanted to become a teacher so I could be on the giving end of what I had received that week. I can not emphasize enough how vital it is to take time out for yourself, slow way down, share stories, and meditate. I also realize it is a privilege to be able to afford such a luxury as a week in paradise. But a retreat can take the form of so many different experiences: A walk in the woods. Quiet time with a cat. A day of silence. A solo camping trip (even for one night). Watching the sun rise.
I would like to thank all of the teachers in my life who have seen the potential in me that I was blind to. Thank you for gently pushing me out of the box so I could grow.
I hope you enjoy watching this video and feel inspired to do something special for yourself. Thank you Brett, Via Yoga, Mother Nature, and my family. I love you all! Jai!